Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Unrequited like


My brother visited me in Denver this weekend. (We went hiking on Saturday; that's a view from the trail up to Lost Lake.) It's bittersweet to see him because even though our relationship is a lot better than it was three years ago, it's nothing like it used to be, and I have to come to terms with the possibility that we'll never fully recover.

The feeling that oppresses me when we're together is one of unrequited like. I know he loves me because I'm his sister and that's just basic. But I no longer know, as I did when we were younger, if he likes me. The thing is, I don't need everyone to like me, I really don't. I'm too outspoken, I can be aggressive, abrasive, I'm dismissive of conventions in a way I'm sure is casually offensive to many, especially on first impression. But most of the time, people that I like like me back, if they give me a chance. (Why wouldn't they? I'm smart! I'm funny! I'm a good friend! I don't lie and I try hard not to hurt people!) And most of the time, if someone doesn't like me, it's easy enough to roll my eyes and forget about them. You can't please all of the people, etc.

But there are certain cases where I like someone and they don't like me, and it gets to me. It always seems impossible—we appear to be similar types of people, where is the disconnect? You know how some people, when you tell them you disagree with them, keep insisting that you must not understand their position? It's like that, I feel that they must be missing something, that they couldn't possible dislike me "on my own terms."

I think the issue is that, over the years, my brother has changed more than I have. He's become the type of person that I'd normally just let not like me, but when I look at him I remember who he was at 19 or 22, and that's the person I keep trying to win back.

11 comments:

  1. My brother and I grew apart a little after out parents' divorce, a little more after we got a stepbrother who was a jock like him, a lot more once we shipped off to college. Now my dad is dying and we're not speaking to each other.

    I want 10-year-old me and 7-year-old him back.

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    1. So sorry. Losing a relationship with a family member feels like a kind of mourning, you never just get over it the way you do with friends who drift away.

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  2. "...but when I look at him I remember who he was at 19 or 22, and that's the person I keep trying to win back."

    I've got 2 brothers and 2 sisters, (I'm the middle in every way). Most important people in my life so I am hurting for you a little.

    All that just to say that this last line might be pointing out that perhaps he wants you to like him (as he is now) too?

    Ignore me if I'm on crack... just responding to languag-- as is my wont. At least, in a short story, that is the disconnect I'd read.

    Beautiful hike spot.

    Be well.

    Kirsten

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    1. Thank you K ... I do like him, as he is now, but liking him seems not to be enough. Being around him makes me feel like I am wrong or bad in some way, with no way to fix it.

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  4. Well that's just plain blecchy. You don't need no fixing.

    K

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    1. So weird. I was having this exact conversation yesterday about a boy I grew up with who I've always considered to be like a brother. I showed what you'd written to my husband after which he was more willing to talk with me about it. Thanks for sharing it.

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    2. Hi Jane, I'm glad it helped in some measure.

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  5. This bums me out. And yes, people should like you! I've never considered you any of the potentially negative adjectives you applied to yourself, but even if I had, you're awesome. That being said, I've had the experience of being "outside" with the family, all of a sudden, and it sucks.

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad .. I think my self-conception has been altered by people who don't like me telling me what I'm supposedly like ...

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